Calycanthus occidentalis Hook. & Arn.
Western sweetshrub, California sweet shrub, Spice bush, Western spicebush
Calycanthaceae (Strawberry-shrub Family)
USDA Symbol: CAOC5
A mound-shaped, deciduous shrub, Western sweetshrub grows 6-15 ft. tall, with erect, multiple stems and glossy, aromatic, leathery, dark-green foliage. Terminal blossoms are solitary and dark red with numerous overlapping, strap-like petals. Unlike its eastern relative, Calycanthus floridus, the flowers of this sweet shrub are not fragrant. Leaves become yellow in fall but are usually not showy.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate , Ovate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Rounded
Size Notes: Height and spread 4-12 feet.
Flower: Flowers up to 3 inches across.
Fruit: 1-1 1/4 inches long.
Size Class: 6-12 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Pink , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Each bloom only lasts 1-2 days.
Native Distribution: CA Coast Ranges & w. Sierra Nevadas from Tulare Co. to Shasta Co.
Native Habitat: Moist stream banks below 4000 ft.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Calycanthus occidentalis will develop leaf burn if planting site is too dry.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Introduced into cultivation in 1831.
Use Other: Wood used by indigenous peoples for arrows.
Fragrant Foliage: yes
PropagationPropagation Material: Clump Division , Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Sow fresh, untreated seeds or store and stratify.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Prune only if needed.
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Calycanthus occidentalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Calycanthus occidentalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Calycanthus occidentalis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2011-01-08
Research By: TWC Staff